Leading cloud provider Amazon Web Services launch their re:Invent 2016 conference in Las Vegas today. Their fifth annual summit of this nature, it marks a huge milestone for the trailblazing business IT giant.
However, this year’s event has a far-reaching significance for business worldwide, and its attitudes towards modern computing. Enveloping every industry on the planet, the cloud IT revolution is upon us. Amazon.com, best known for its online consumer shopping function, held its first cloud computing event in 2011. The growth in corporate attendance for the event, between that time and today, is nothing short of staggering. Still more revealing is how the type of delegates attending has changed. The event effectively represents how the cloud market has grown and compounded over recent years.
2011: The State Of Play
By 2011, cloud computing was a quasi-established phenomenon in the public eye. Consumers knew of the term through popular mediums, such as iTunes or Dropbox, even if their understanding of it might still be incomplete. That incomplete, disparate understanding had thus far impeded the cloud’s ascent into the world of big business. From a commercial perspective, the cloud was hazily understood to be an IT cost-cutter of sorts, one that allowed you to access your work through the Internet.
Perhaps the most notable thing about AWS’ 2011 re:Invent conference, in hindsight, was how heavily its attendee list was weighted towards startups. Around 6,000 were present at the event, with most having chosen to exploit AWS’ processing power and data storage, as opposed to running their own data centres.
2016: Big Industry
Five years on, re:Invent is much better attended in terms of numbers. Chief executive Andy Jassy projected a turnout of 32,000 delegates for this year’s event, which runs until Friday evening. Yet it is not only the numbers that intrigue, but the magnitude of business now involved with the cloud. In the third quarter of 2016, the likes of Unilever, Capital One and Coca-Cola have stoked Amazon’s success. In doing so, Amazon have defied the slowing or reversing sales growth often predicted for large technology firms.
This marks a significant transition in how business IT conventionally operates. Where big business traditionally preferred to keep all matters IT onsite – and therefore as close as possible – they now entrust cloud providers to take partial or full responsibility for storing, and securing, their data. It is entirely appropriate to call this an IT revolution.
What’s Brought All This On, Then?
To understand how this has transpired, we need to consider why big business was so reluctant in the first place. The first issue was that they already had an IT platform that seemed to be working well. The immediate inclination to change that system simply did not exist. Even when these businesses came to consider the cloud, their apprehension was noted. New computing technology, simply by its very nature, generally attracts scepticism over the issue of cybersecurity. An IT revolution is none too welcome if it looks vulnerable.
The change came about as business customers became aware that those fears were merely instinctive. They held little foundation in fact. There is no reason that a cloud desktop should be less secure than an onsite server – and in fact, it holds a number of significant advantages over the latter. These include regular, automatic server snapshotting and backing up, privacy-enhancing technologies such as encryption, and the simple fact that a remote, unplottable server is much more difficult than an easily locatable onsite one.
Having considered the obstacles, big business began to see the cloud as a legitimate competitive advantage – and later, as it became mainstream, a commercial necessity. They did so on various grounds. The most obvious of these is the working mobility and added applications that a virtual platform can offer, as referred to above. Further advantages come in the form of a scalable IT infrastructure, which constitutes a long-term solution regarding capacity. The optimum cloud platform runs on a pay-as-you-use model, eliminating wasted IT outlay, and offers the correct balance of security and functionality.
This is reflected in the year-on-year success of Amazon’s re:Invent series of events. We warmly wish them well for this week and hope it becomes another triumph for the cloud IT revolution. We'll be following the event closely on Twitter!
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Written by Oliver Kiddell
Oliver Kiddell, Author at Viastak Technologists.